The Church is Locked on Easter Day

a rondeau

The Church is locked on Easter Day
Despite the stone being rolled away.
The Christ awakes to greet the poor
But they cannot get through the door
To go to holy Mass and pray.

Lay folk are told, at home to stay:
“Go watch the online Mass, you may!”
Old Lazarus now cries for more;
The Church is locked.

The Banquet Feast is on display:
The rich priest dines without delay.
Old Lazarus, unseen and sore,
Begs from the table of the Lord.
Denied “for health” and kept at bay,
The Church is locked.

 

 

A Sonnet

The birds recite their repetitious tune
Amidst the crickets’ soft monotony.
Two chirps create one kind of harmony:
A part of nature’s silent, siren swoon.

The wind comes dancing through the trees unpruned
Provoking pines to whistle subtly.
The sun conducts its rays to gleam with glee:
A part of nature’s muted, golden boon.

What’s this? The time grows late, and I must leave.
To work! To work! in modern Babylon
Where much is said and little is perceived.

All happiness now fades beyond belief.
To work! To work! how do I carry on?
Oh vanity of man! You make me grieve!

 

 

The Queen

She sees a world of black and white
And moves across tiled floors to fight.
She toils much despite her name.
To her, life is but a game.

 

 

Benjamin Thomas Cepican is a poet from central Indiana. After graduating college, he spent around two years as a Catholic friar in a (now dissolved) religious community. Currently, he works at a coffee shop but has not yet given up hope on living the contemplative life.


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7 Responses

  1. Margaret Coats

    The Easter rondeau is superb. Reflecting on the Resurrection in the first stanza, Old Lazarus in the second, and the rich priest in the third, we see again what so many of us missed this past Easter. The three sections work together perfectly. The choice of “old” to describe Lazarus recalls all the elderly, who may have wanted most to go to Mass, but were told how very dangerous it was, especially for them. Of course none of us could go except the priests, who in this situation are not bad or careless rich folk, because they gave what they could. But only they could be present at the Banquet so needed for spiritual health by everyone.

    Artful use of words as well in “A Sonnet.” I admire “subtly” because it has to be pronounced with three syllables, making the reader supply the whistling of the pines. And “beyond belief” carries the double meaning of happiness fading such that we can’t believe in it any more–and of happiness fading, except for the happiness we have in our belief. Fine work!

    Reply
    • Benjamin Thomas Cepican

      -Thank you for your comments. I am humbled that anyone should enjoy these simple offerings.

      -As for your comment about the priests: I think of a quote by St. Teresa Margaret of the Heart of Jesus: “If our neighbor’s acts had one hundred facets, we should see only the best one; and then, if the act is blameworthy, we should at least excuse the intention.” I think the act of indefinite ban on the sacraments was blameworthy. I do not wish to go on at length, but the safety protocols went on too long–even if originally justifiable (even by Aquinas &c.). And thus I agree with you about the need for spiritual health. Again, I think of a quote, this time from St. Josemaria Escriva: “Receiving Communion every day for so many years! Anybody else would be a saint by now–you told me–and I…I’m always the same! Son, I replied, keep up your daily Communion, and think: What would I be if I hadn’t received?” I asked myself that question a lot during quarantine. The power of the Sacraments ought never to be overlooked.

      “The Church is Locked” was also intended to showcase a difference in kinds of poverty, and how those kinds of poverty are treated. We recognize material poverty with ease but so often fail to notice spiritual poverty. The poem also wished to point out the terrible way in which this kind of poverty was dealt with: quarantine. At least Lazarus from Luke had a physical gateway–a window, if you will–in which to be walked over and passed by. He had the luxury of being personally ignored (for the rich man knew Lazarus’s name and recognized him). The new digital window does not give the poor even this dignity.

      Reply
  2. Joseph S. Salemi

    All three poems of Brother Benjamin are fine work, especially “The Queen,” with its concise precision. I would add “And” to the start of the final line, so as to avoid a trochaic verse. But that’s just a minor detail, of little importance. It’s just that in a very short poem, metric regularity becomes more important.

    I generally refrain from intruding verse of my own in these posting columns, out of courtesy to the poets whose work is being considered. But “The Church is Locked on Easter Day” hit a sore nerve with this angry Catholic, and drove me to erupt, and compose the following lines:

    The Church is More Than Locked

    The Church is screwed in most respects
    Because our phony “Pope” rejects
    Tradition, dogma, hierarchy
    In favor of bizarre malarkey
    Spouted by apostate vermin
    (Mostly liberal, rich, and German).
    So even if the Church doors open,
    Don’t get yourself enthused and hopin’.
    There isn’t that much left to lose–
    We still expect half-empty pews.
    All the troubles that we’ve got
    Pale before the moral rot
    That stems from Jorge’s witless raving,
    His left-wing antics, and his craving
    To wreck the Church and twist her so
    She’s turned into an NGO.
    If our Church is weaker, poorer,
    Blame the Buenos Aires Fuhrer–
    If collection plates are leaner,
    Blame the swine from Argentina.

    Reply
  3. Margaret Coats

    Brother Benjamin Thomas, is one of these your name in religion? I sympathize with everything Dr. Salemi expresses, but still offer you my special hopes that you will find a means of formally living out the contemplative vocation. I just sent some friends a reminder of the upcoming Ember Days (Sept. 23, 25, 26), during which we make prayers and sacrifices for the good harvest of vows and ordinations of those currently moving toward those goals. Added your name to those on my list. Here is the reminder poem I took from the French of Eustache Deschamps (c.1346-1406).

    ON THE FAST OF THE FOUR TIMES

    None ought to scorn each season’s Ember Days:
    The heedless glutton dines in mortal sin,
    While he who fasts, God’s own command obeys.

    The old who keep the fast show wisdom’s ways;
    The young in reverence practice discipline.
    None ought to scorn each season’s Ember Days:
    The heedless glutton dines in mortal sin.

    No treasure greater is, nor earns more praise,
    Than following God’s precepts genuine,
    With both the Testaments to guide therein.
    None ought to scorn each season’s Ember Days:
    The heedless glutton dines in mortal sin,
    While he who fasts, God’s own command obeys.

    Reply
    • Benjamin Thomas Cepican

      -I appreciate your prayers. They are, perhaps, the greatest fruit of these poems. It brings a warmth amidst the modern Babylon!

      If you should like to see an older poem that I wrote in college (for I find that you and other Catholics here might enjoy it), here is a link to my honor’s thesis on St. Lawrence. Though it was written when I was more exuberant–and there are some errors that went unnoticed (typos, problems with meter, reading up on more history, &c.)–the work itself still holds up.

      https://cardinalscholar.bsu.edu/handle/123456789/200112

      God bless,
      BTC

      Reply
  4. David Watt

    Brother Benjamin, I enjoyed your three poems. My favorite is ‘The Church is Locked on Easter Day’ because it highlights a sorry state of affairs; and the rondeau form is an excellent choice to deliver your message.

    Reply
  5. Cynthia Erlandson

    I totally agree with the pathos of “The Church is Locked on Easter Day.” It doesn’t seem we should keep our bodies “safe” while denying our souls. Thank you.

    Reply

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